Courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. â€” Trailing by 21 points with less than 14 minutes to go, No. 3 Appalachian State University football scored four touchdowns in a 7:51 span then thwarted a two-point-conversion attempt with under a minute to play to hold on for a heart-stopping 42-41 victory over Chattanooga on Saturday at Finley Stadium.
Appalachian (1-0, 1-0 SoCon) extended its Southern Conference winning streak to 21 games by overcoming a 35-14 fourth-quarter deficit. Chattanooga (0-1, 0-1 SoCon) led 28-7 at halftime and regained its 21-point lead when Garrett Hughes caught B.J. Coleman's third touchdown pass of the afternoon on the first play of the fourth quarter.
From there, the Mountaineers took over, scoring the game's next 28 points in under eight minutes, capped by a bizarre 33-yard touchdown "reception" by quarterback DeAndre Presley (Tampa, Fla./Middleton). Chattanooga jumped offsides on a third-and-one play from the Mocs' 29 yard line, giving Presley and the Mountaineers a free play. Presley threw a quick pass to wide receiver Matt Cline (Thomasville, N.C./Glenn), who was drilled by UTC defender Chris Lewis-Harris and fumbled. Presley picked up the loose ball and weaved his way through the UTC defense, picked up a number of key downfield blocks and scored the go-ahead touchdown from 33 yards out.
After the teams swapped scoreless series, the Mocs took possession at their own 14 yard line with 2:56 to go and drove 86 yards in 11 plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Coleman on third and goal that cut the Mountaineer lead to one at 42-41 with 56 seconds left in the game. With a pair of UTC kickers having already combined to miss three extra points, Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman elected to go for two points and a potential victory following the score. However, Buck Buchanan Award candidate Mark LeGree (Columbus, Ga./Pacelli Catholic) batted down Coleman's pass into the end zone on the two-point attempt to preserve the one-point lead. Brian Quick (Columbia, S.C./Ridge View) recovered the Mocs' ensuing onside kick attempt to seal Appalachian's epic come-from-behind triumph.
Both sides of the ball contributed to the epic comeback. On the offensive end, things started clicking at the end of the third quarter when the Mountaineers marched 86 yards in four plays, culminating the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Presley to tight end Ben Jorden (Weddington, N.C./Charlotte Latin) that made it 28-14 with 1:17 to go in the third.
However, it looked like the touchdown would be inconsequential when UTC answered by driving 77 yards in three plays and stretched the lead back to 21 with on Coleman's 16-yard scoring strike to Hughes six seconds into the final period.
Appalachian answered quickly with an identical three-play, 77-yard scoring drive that took only 49 seconds off the clock. Cedric Baker (Wilmington, N.C./New Hanover) scored from three yards out to cut the ASU deficit to 35-21.
On the ensuing kickoff, redshirt freshman Tony Washington (High Point, N.C./T.W. Andrews) leveled Chattanooga returner Buster Skrine and forced a fumble that was recovered by fellow redshirt freshman Karl Anderson (Pilot Point, Texas/Pilot Point) and returned 18 yards to give ASU possession deep in UTC territory. Three plays later, Presley ran it in from four yards out to bring the Mountaineers within seven at 35-28.
Buck Buchanan Award candidate Jabari Fletcher (Atlanta, Ga./Grady) single-handedly took over the game on the next series, sacking Coleman twice, the second of which forced a fumble that Fletcher recovered himself at the Chattanooga seven yard line. It only took one play for the offense to capitalize, with Baker recording his second touchdown run in under three minutes to knot the score at 35-35.
A three-and-out by ASU's defense on the ensuing series set up Presley's wild go-ahead scoring run.
In his third-career start, Presley accounted for 365 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, completing 22-of-29 passes without an interception for 340 yards and two scores and running 11 times for 25 yards and another pair of touchdowns. He was also credited with 33 receiving yards and another touchdown on the bizarre score that gave Appalachian its first lead.
Quick was Presley's favorite target, catching five passes for 121 yards. Cline had a game-high eight receptions for 89 yards and Jorden had three huge catches for 45 yards and a score. Devin Radford (Fayetteville, N.C./E.E. Smith) ran 10 times for a team-best 85 yards.
Defensively, Fletcher stuffed the stat sheet with two sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove) registered a team-high eight stops. Troy Sanders (Chester, S.C./Chester) and Justin Wray (Covington, Ga./Eastside) added seven tackles apiece.
The teams combined for 83 points and 978 yards but were plagued by five total turnovers (two for ASU and three for UTC). Coleman led the Mocs with 340 yards on 23-of-37 passing and five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).
Appalachian opens the 2010 home campaign next Saturday when it hosts Jacksonville at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.